Micronutrient-dense bar shows broad health improvements for overweight/obese adults: CHORI study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

The bars may beneficially affect mitochondrial stress and impaired gut wall integrity, both of which are common in the obese, said the researchers.
The bars may beneficially affect mitochondrial stress and impaired gut wall integrity, both of which are common in the obese, said the researchers.

Related tags Nutrition Inflammation

A micronutrient and fiber-dense supplement bar may improve metabolism in overweight/obese but otherwise healthy adults, says a new study from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).

Two months of consumption of the CHORI-bar, conceived by Drs Bruce Ames and Mark Shigenaga, was found to improve metabolism in ways that are consistent with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to findings published in the FASEB Journal.

“Two-month consumption of the nutrient bar did not make the overweight/obese (OW/OB) lean or completely correct unhealthy metabolism, but it did begin a process of favorable metabolic change,” ​wrote the authors, led by Dr Joyce McCann.

“The fact that almost all statistically significant favorable changes occurred in the subgroup of the OW/OB with less chronic inflammation suggests an explanation for why some OW/OB have difficulty losing weight. This study highlights the power of food-based, targeted, dietary interventions as alternatives or adjuncts to the use of drugs to treat obesity and associated metabolic dysregulation.”

A decade in development

Ames 4c
The bar was developed over 10 years by scientists led by Dr Bruce Ames (above) and Dr Joyce McCann at CHORI, and guided by Dr Mark Shigenaga’s insights into the importance of a healthy gut, in collaboration with the USDA.

The CHORI bar was developed with the intention of filling nutrient gaps with components present in the bar in normal dietary amounts.

Most people do not eat an optimally nutritious diet – particularly the obese. This results in unhealthy metabolism, which not only diminishes vigor, but increases future risk of many diseases. While poor diets contain much that is not healthy (e.g., too much salt, sugar), they also are missing or deficient in a number of important components (e.g., vitamins/minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber) necessary for healthy metabolism. Considerable evidence in the scientific literature supports the idea that simply supplying missing or deficient dietary ingredients will improve metabolism.

The new paper compiled data from three two-month clinical trials that included a significant number of overweight/obese individuals. These trials were conducted over a 4-year period using very similar bar formulations.

Study details

Dr McCann and her co-workers included data from 43 healthy lean and overweight/obese adults, who served as their own controls. The participants were asked to eat two bars each day for eight weeks (composition of the bars is shown in the table below right).

The composition of the bars used in the three studies. The table is reproduced from The FASEB Journal, the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Results showed that, in overweight/obese people with lower baseline inflammation levels, the CHORI-bar was associated with significant average reductions in weight of 1.1 kg and waist circumference of 3.1 cm.

The bar was also associated with significant decreases in diastolic blood pressure of 4.1 mmHg  and heart rate of 4.0 beats per minute. Blood lipid levels were also significantly improved, with triglycerides reduced by an average of 72 mg/dl and HDL-2b levels increased by an average of 303 nM.

Insulin measures also improved, with a measure for insulin resistance decreasing by an average 0.72 over eight weeks of CHORI-bar consumption, while insulin levels also fell by an average of 2.8 mU/L.

In overweight/obese people with higher baseline inflammation levels, improvements were only observed in inflammation at week two, and heart rate at week eight.

Commenting on the potential mechanisms, the authors cited potential beneficial effects on mitochondrial stress and impaired gut wall integrity. “Both of these conditions are common in the obese, and both are linked to poor diets and to insulin resistance and inflammation,” ​they wrote.

“Bar-induced reduction of mitochondrial stress and improved gut integrity would be expected to have multiple beneficial consequences similar to the metabolic improvements observed in this study.

“The restoration of an internal metabolic environment that manifests a leaner metabolic profile would also allow the metabolic flexibility required for weight loss and clearance of ectopic adiposity.”

“Consumption of the bar for two months also reduced chronic inflammation, and initiated a reduction in weight and waist circumference​,” they wrote. “Decreased inflammation and improved weight and weight distribution can lower the risk of many chronic diseases,”​ they concluded.

Source: FASEB Journal
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1096/fj.15-271833
“A multicomponent nutrient bar promotes weight loss and improves dyslipidemia and insulin resistance in the overweight/obese: chronic inflammation blunts these improvements”
Authors: J.C. McCann, M.K. Shigenaga, M.L. Mietus-Snyder, A. Lal, et al.

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